In a singing in the rain type of comeback Sri Lanka sounded the winning board from a long holocaust with 22-year old Praveen Jayawickrama reappearing in the magic of his record breaking debut Test match heroics cleaning up three frontline wickets when India threatened a 300-plus total for Avishka Fernando 76 off 98 and Bhanuka Rajapaksa 65 off 56 to put the Indian bowling attack to the sword in a 3-wicket triumph chasing down 225 in the third and final ODI at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Friday.
Sri Lanka made 227 for 7 off 39 overs In the rain reduced 47-over contest after India, going in with several changes, caved in off 43.1 overs. Jayawickrama’s victims were Sanju Samson caught by Avishka Fernando for 46, Manish Pandey caught behind by wicket-keeper Minod Bhanuka for 11 and Hardik Pandya leg before wicket for 11 in that order after Dushmantha Chameera had skipper Shikar Dhawan caught behind by Minod Bhanuka for 13 with the total 28 and Dasun Shanaka had Prithvi Shaw leg before wicket for 49 off an equal number of balls inclusive of 8 boundaries with the total reading 102 off 15.5 overs.
The heightening contrasting knocks of the two Sri Lankan batsmen, one of cornerstone concentration by Fernando upfront tucked in 4 boundaries and the hammer and tong dazzle of Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s willow in the dazzle of 12 boundaries carried Sri Lanka home in a see sawing contest. There was the hard hitting Rajapaksa living up to a reputation that made him a schoolboy sensation translating that blitzkrieg into international cricket in only his third big outing. In doing so the 29-year old did live up to the pre-match expectations of a large home fan base that he would deliver leaving the stage at 144 for 2 after 22 overs. That was after the first wicket of Minod Bhanuka (7) had fallen with the total 35 off 33 balls. Following that 99-ball partnership Avishka Fernando remained in a truly match winning display of character cutting off the frills of the flamboyance he is known for to taking his side past the 200 mark and within 12 runs of victory sixth out with the score 214 off 36.2 overs. That included a 43-run alliance for the fourth wicket with Charith Asalanka who made 24 off 28 with 3 boundaries. India did claim the quick wickets of skipper dasun Shanaka for a duck and Dhananjaya de Silva for 2, bur young Ramesh Mendis at No.7 stood firm on 15 off 18 (1×4) with Akila Dananjaya on 5. Fernando was Player of the Match and Suriyakumar Yadav Player of the series.
Following Jayawickrama’s strikes, Akila Dananjaya ac ounted for the next three wickets – Suriyakumar Yadav leg before wicket for 40, Nitish Rana caught behind for 7 and Krishnappa Gowtham becoming his second LBW victim for 2 as India further precipitated from 5 for 179 to 195 for 8 with Chamika Karunaratne taking a return catch off Rahul Chahar 13 and Chameera having Navdeep Saini caught by Fernando for 15.
India 225 (43.1 Overs) RR: 5.21
(Prithvi Shaw 49, Sanju Samson 46, Suriyakumar Yadav 40, Navdeep Saini 15, Shikhar Dhawan 13, Manish Pandey 11, Akila Dananjaya 3/44, Praveen Jayawickrama 3/59, Dushmantha Chameera 2/55)
Sri Lanka 227/7 (39 Overs) RR: 5.82
(Avishka Fernando 76, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 65, Charith Asalanka 24, Ramesh Mendis n.o. 15, Akila Dananjaya n.o. 5, Rahul Chahar 3/54, Chetan Sakariya 2/34)